Leighton Rowell

On Second Thought Producer

Leighton Rowell is a producer for On Second Thought.

Prior to joining GPB, Leighton lived in Brazil, teaching English through a Fulbright Award and eating far too much pão de queijo.

Leighton's previous reporting has appeared on TIME.com, The Trace and in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; she also interned for NBC Sports during the Rio 2016 Olympics. For her work on investigations at the AJC and WSB-TV, Leighton was honored with two Larry Peterson Memorial Awards in 2016.

An Atlanta native, Leighton attended the University of Georgia, where she was a Foundation Fellow and managing editor of The Red & Black student newspaper. She also began her public radio career in Athens as an intern for WUGA's classical music program Afternoon Concert.

Leighton graduated from UGA summa cum laude with bachelor's degrees in history and Romance languages. She speaks Portuguese and French. 

It's been 100 years since a Spanish influenza epidemic killed as many as 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans. A new book on the deadly pandemic is out this week. It's called “More Deadly Than War.” The author, Kenneth C. Davis, talked with us about how the Spanish flu affected the course of World War I.

Still from YouTube / GPB

Just as we do at the end of every week, this Friday we brought together a group of four smart people to help us break down the week's news. On Second Thought host Adam Ragusea sat down with our Breakroom panel — Soumaya Khalifa, Greg Williams, Natalie Pawelski and Nemr — to put a rest to the Laurel vs. Yanny debate, process the royal wedding drama and analyze the antics of Georgia's GOP candidates for governor

Still from YouTube / GPB

Comedian Paula Poundstone is concerned she will have to whisper her act at the Miller Theater in Augusta Friday.

"Because of the golf," she told us in a hushed voice. 

Such a quiet routine would be a departure from Poundstone's typically boisterous commentary on NPR's weekly news quiz "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" She's been a panelist on the show more than 200 times, but told us she holds the "Wait Wait" record for losses. 

Colleges and universities across Georgia have wrapped up the semester, but one Morehouse College student has more work to do. Last year, Julien Turner took an extra credit biology assignment and turned it into a viral music video about the differences between mitosis and meiosis. The rising junior's video made it all the way to the people who work on "Sesame Street." Now, Julien and his brother are creating an educational music video for the show. Julien spoke with GPB's Leah Fleming about the project.

Devin Pedde

In 2016, Grammy-winning mandolinist Chris Thile was tasked with recreating one of public radio's most popular programs, as the second-ever host of "A Prairie Home Companion."

Now in its second season, the show has been recreated once over with a new title: "Live From Here." 

"It's a show title that really works for what we're doing, which is hopefully anything," Thile told us. "That's what gives me the biggest thrill ... sitting down in my little studio on Monday with a blank canvas." 

Atlanta’s Donald Glover has found a new level of success. He’s an actor, the creator of a hit show named after his hometown of Atlanta, and a rapper under the name Childish Gambino. But his most powerful statement might be “This Is America”, a new song and video released over the weekend. Freelance entertainment reporter Jewel Wicker gives us her take on the video and what role musicians should play when it comes to social issues.

On Second Thought For Tuesday, May 15, 2018

May 16, 2018

Atlanta’s professional soccer team has come a long way fast. Atlanta United FC took to the field for the first time in March 2017. Now it draws in tens of thousands of fans. We talked with the team’s president, Darren Eales.

American Advisors Group / Flickr

American women are living longer than ever. The average woman lives to be about 81 years old. But a new study reports that, after working with a lifelong gender pay gap and interrupting their careers to take care of children, spouses or aging parents, women could fall far short of saving what they need to support themselves in retirement.

On Second Thought For Monday, May 14, 2018

May 14, 2018

Several major productions are being filmed in Georgia right now.  AJC Buzz Blog writer Jennifer Brett joins us to talk about upcoming films “Boss Level,” “What Men Want,” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp.” We also discuss the television shows that are filming in Georgia, like “Stranger Things” and “The Walking Dead.”  

The heavy metal band Mastodon got its start performing in Georgia in 2000. Nearly two decades later, the band has a Grammy Award and returns to Atlanta May 16 with a show at the Fox Theatre. We sat down with Brann Dailor, Mastodon's drummer and vocalist, to talk about the band's journey to stardom and its latest album "Emperor of Sand."

Actor Tony Hale first rose to fame as the ultimate mother's boy Buster Bluth on the show "Arrested Development." Hale also starred in the HBO series “Veep.”  His character was the personal assistant to President Selina Meyer, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Hale's parents live in the Macon area and he spends a lot of time in Georgia. We talked with him in 2016 about his career. 

Georgia is a hub of multiculturalism. At Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, there’s a new class tapping into that topic. It's called "Literary Tribalism: How to Read Race, Class, Nation & Gender." Oglethorpe University English professor Reshmi Hebbar joined us in studio to tell us about her new class. Her students, Caleb Logan and Yasmin Tehrani, also joined the conversation.

Adam Ragusea / Center for Collaborative Journalism / GPB

Police aren't required by law to collaborate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on immigration control. It's a choice.

 

Athens-Clarke County recently joined at least seven other Georgia communities that refuse to honor ICE detainers. That’s when ICE asks local jails to hold people they’ve booked until ICE agents can come get them.

 

It’s a different story elsewhere in Georgia, a recent investigation found. According to an article reported by On Second Thought's Adam Ragusea and his journalism students at Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism, some cities and counties eagerly cooperate with ICE.

May is Older Americans Month. In 2017, Georgia ranked 41st in the nation for senior health. GPB Special Correspondent Celeste Headlee talked about the state of our elder care system with Kathy Floyd, executive director for the Georgia Council on Aging, and Glenn Ostir, director of the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Georgia.

Pollution and global warming rank near the top of environmentalists' growing list of concerns. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, another menace to the environment is in many people's own backyards. Over a two day period, the EPA studied waste from 100 dogs. The findings were alarming; there were enough bacteria to force the closing of a city’s watershed. Anna Truszczynski from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division explains how dog feces is an environmental hazard.

The face of local news in Macon, Georgia, is changing. After nearly four decades, Friday is Oby Brown's last day at The Telegraph in Macon. Brown's departure comes amid what another outgoing editor called a "transformation" of the newspaper. Brown joined us in the studio to discuss the way local news is changing and reflect on his longtime career covering the news in middle Georgia. 

Adam Ragusea / GPB

The face of local news in Macon, Georgia, is changing. After nearly four decades, Friday is Oby Brown's last day at The Telegraph in Macon. 

Last month, investigators in Atlanta recovered about 500 pounds of methamphetamine hidden inside Disney figurines. That's worth about $2 million. Drug Enforcement Administration officials not only say that Atlanta is a hub for crystal meth distribution; according to the DEA, meth also the "No. 1 threat" in the metro area.

New research on anxiety in the workplace finds in some cases, anxiety can actually help improve employee performance. Georgia State University psychology professor Page Anderson developed a technology to help people with social anxiety by using virtual reality. The software simulates real life settings that cause patients anxiety, helping them learn to cope before they have to confront the same scenarios in the real world. 

The Carolina Parakeet was a wild bird in lots of senses of the word; it flew throughout the Southeast and Midwest, including along the Georgia coast. Revolutionary War soldiers and Manifest Destiny explorers journaled about their bright green plumage and “disagreeable screams.” And they were thought to be poisonous, because they ate cocklebur seeds that were harmless to them but toxic to cats hoping for a feathered meal. The birds went extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. Now, researcher Kevin Burgio is using their migration patterns and physiology as a means to explore how we can save at-risk species today.

For Mark Sanchez, being a peach grower means "you pretty much stay worried all year. That's because for peaches to bloom in the spring, peach trees have to stay cold in the winter. At Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley, Georgia, that means getting 650-850 "chill hours" — or hours under 45 degrees Fahrenheit — between November and February. But last year, conditions didn't even come within range. By Sanchez's estimate, Fort Valley only got about 550 cold hours. Whereas a typical peach season goes through mid-August, Lane wrapped up operations in early July. So after this year's cold winter, Sanchez, Lane's CEO, is more optimistic. We talked to him about what we can expect from this year's peach season and what makes Georgia the peach state even though other states have surpassed our production levels. 

Courtesy of the Peabody Awards

Every year, the George Foster Peabody Awards honor “stories that matter.” Founded and archived at the University of Georgia, the awards are often called the Pulitzer Prize of broadcast.

Between several categories — individual/institutional, documentary, entertainment, news, radio/podcast and public service — 60 finalists are chosen. From those 60, the Peabody Awards board of jurors selects 30 winners. The board's decisions must be unanimous.

This year's winners include HBO's "Insecure," Netflix's "Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King," Vice News's coverage of the violent neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the "S-Town podcast" from This American Life and Serial.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Ready to put your winter clothes away? Not so fast. Although temperatures across the state are predicted to reach into the 70s this weekend, cooler than average spring weather is projected to stick around Georgia until at least the beginning of May. In Atlanta, lows have approached century-old records for this time of year. In middle and south Georgia, the National Weather Service projects a 40 percent chance of below normal temperatures. 

Britt Reints / Wikimedia Commons

For Mark Sanchez, being a peach grower means "you pretty much stay worried all year."

That's because for peaches to bloom in the spring, peach trees have to stay cold in the winter. At Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley, Georgia, that means getting 650-850 "chill hours" — or hours under 45 degrees Fahrenheit — between November and February. But last year, conditions didn't even come within range. By Sanchez's estimate, Fort Valley only got about 550 cold hours. Whereas a typical peach season goes through mid-August, Lane wrapped up operations in early July.

So after this year's cold winter, Sanchez, Lane's CEO, is more optimistic. 

Food can evoke so many rich memories. A book by Savannah food writer Jonathan Barrett captures some of the stories tied to Southern recipes. We talked with Barrett, author of the new book Cook & Tell, in 2017. We also heard from freelance writer Amy Condon, who contributed her own story to the book.

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